Comparison of Hyperpriors for Modeling the Intertrait Correlation in a Multidimensional IRT Model

  • Meng-I ChangEmail author
  • Yanyan Sheng
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 265)


Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms have made the estimation of multidimensional item response theory (MIRT) models possible under a fully Bayesian framework. An important goal in fitting a MIRT model is to accurately estimate the interrelationship among multiple latent traits. In Bayesian hierarchical modeling, this is realized through modeling the covariance matrix, which is typically done via the use of an inverse Wishart prior distribution due to its conjugacy property. Studies in the Bayesian literature have pointed out limitations of such specifications. The purpose of this study is to compare the inverse Wishart prior with other alternatives such as the scaled inverse Wishart, the hierarchical half-t, and the LKJ priors on parameter estimation and model adequacy of one form of the MIRT model through Monte Carlo simulations. Results suggest that the inverse Wishart prior performs worse than the other priors on parameter recovery and model-data adequacy across most of the simulation conditions when variance for person parameters is small. Findings from this study provide a set of guidelines on using these priors in estimating the Bayesian MIRT models.


Multidimensional item response theory Fully bayesian model Markov chain Monte Carlo 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPhilander Smith CollegeLittle RockUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counseling, Quantitative Methods, and Special EducationSouthern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA

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